A Christmas scene in a piazza in Italy – lights, a tree, but no gifts. ©KettiWilhelm2021

35 Unique & Sustainable Gift Ideas for Picky Gifters (2023 UPDATE)

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This is my annual guide to the best sustainable gift ideas, now in its third iteration for 2023! (Originally published Nov. 15, 2021, I’ve fully updated these unique, eco-friendly gift ideas in November 2023, with new products and discounts.)

Consider this your cheat-sheet of the best sustainable gift ideas for very picky people. I mean both picky gifters (guilty) and picky people doing the unwrapping. These gift ideas are for people who want their purchases to be high-quality, useful, beautiful (a few are even luxurious) and support ethical companies.

I don’t want to waste your time. So this should help you decide if this sustainable gift guide aligns with your values and what you need:

  • You want to avoid giving people things they don’t want or need, or low-quality stuff that will end up in the back of a closet or the bottom of a donation bin.
  • You despise the over-consumption-promoting media frenzy telling us what to buy, the obligation to give gifts, and the ensuing waste of money and resources.
  • You don’t ever want to read another boring, un-researched gift listicle again. (That’s why this list is CURATED.)
  • You’re looking for gifts for eco-conscious friends and you’re stuck with NO IDEA what they would appreciate, “approve of,” or actually use.

If any of those points ring true, then read on!

Because the way I see it, we might as well put our gift budget to use supporting small, sustainable companies that are using business to change the world.

So after reviewing lots of sustainable products over the years, I’ve compiled what I consider the most wrapping-paper-worthy ones (or furoshiki-worthy ones), into this list of sustainable gift ideas for your inspiration.

Almost all of these gift ideas are products I’ve personally used. Most of the companies have meaningful sustainability certifications and practices, and ship in minimal, plastic-free packaging.

Sustainable Gifts Ideas Guide

Top Sustainable Gift Ideas by Category:

Black Friday Deals & Other Discounts: I’ve noted a lot of the biggest Black Friday and holiday sales in little boxes like this one – but there are a lot and I’ve certainly missed some! So I’d recommend clicking through the links if you’re interested in an item, because there might be a sale going on that I just didn’t highlight.

The author of this sustainable gift guide, in a doorway wearing a Christmas tree skirt as a real skirt, and carrying a wrapped present. ©KettiWilhelm2021
Yours truly, dressed up for a party in my re-purposed Christmas tree skirt, with wrapping paper I’ve been reusing for years.

[Note: To minimize shipments, many of these gift ideas are available from EarthHero, which is one of the most sustainable online retailers. They also ship with plastic-free packaging – recycled paper padding, paper tape, and no slick marketing inserts.]

You can always use my discount code ( TILTEDMAP10 ) for 10% off any EarthHero order.

Sustainable Travel Gifts

These are my favorite, thoroughly tested, travel gift ideas that your eco-conscious friends will appreciate. (And many are useful both at home and on the road!)

1. A Water Bottle that Purifies Tap Water

This bottle from LARQ has been one of my top sustainable gift ideas for three years running because it’s easily one of the best ways I’ve found to avoid single-use plastics.

How does it work? A UV-C light inside the bottle cap kills bacteria and viruses in dubious tap water, and keeps the bottle from getting smelly.

I’ve now been using mine for more than two years and loving it. It’s beautiful, extremely high-quality and durable, practical and easy to use, and it works.

[Details: Here’s how I used this UV bottle along with a filter travel water bottle in a destination with very unsafe tap water.]

This is the perfect sustainable gift idea for a traveler who visits developing nations, someone who appreciate eco-friendly luxury items, or anyone who just needs a bit of a push to trust tap water and go plastic-free.

Bonuses: I’ve found that the LARQ even improves the taste of some tap water, too. And the small bottle also fits in the water bottle pockets of my Tortuga backpack – the next traveler gift idea on this list.

My LARQ self-cleaning water bottle, sitting on a rock with the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean behind. ©KettiWilhelm2021
Sometimes better tasting, always better looking with this water bottle. (I suppose the Greek island background doesn’t hurt.)

Alternative Gift Idea:

Looking for a more outdoorsy option? The Grayl bottle filters out viruses and bacteria, and also protozoa, particulates (like sediment and microplastics), chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals. Meaning you can use it to drink fresh water from rivers and streams.

If you’ll be drinking from a tap in a developed country, the LARQ is perfect. But I used both the LARQ and Grayl together while traveling in El Salvador.

2. The Best Travel Backpack

Traveling with a travel backpack – carrying your luggage on your back instead of on wheels – is no small decision. But if you do know someone who’s interested in this kind of light and efficient travel, then a really good backpack – with the organization of a suitcase and the comfort of a backpacking backpack – will be worth its weight in gold for them. 

That’s just what the Tortuga backpacks are designed to be. I just tested their maximum carry-on size backpack on a trip to El Salvador, and it passed with flying colors.

(I first compared it with several other brands, which I’ll be writing up in a full review soon. In short, Tortuga blew the competition away in terms of comfort, organization, and security features. So basically everything.)

[Details: Here’s my full Tortuga travel backpack review and comparison with other brands.]

Wearing my Tortuga travel backpack – one of the best sustainable travel gifts this year. ©KettiWilhelm2023
My LARQ bottle (#1 on this gift list!) also fits perfectly in the Tortuga’s water bottle pockets.

A More Affordable Alternative Gift:

I also wore their travel sling, which is basically a trendy new take on a fanny pack crossed with a small day bag.

I liked it a lot more than I expected to because of its really well-designed organization and how surprisingly multipurpose it was. (I could even fit my new Sony full-frame camera, with a small but powerful kit lens, in it. So I ended up using the sling in place of a day pack most days!)

3. A Rail Pass for Travel in Europe

EU Rail Passes are the perfect gift for anyone planning a trip to multiple European cities.

Rail Passes are extremely flexible, and let you help someone pay for a trip – or maybe give them the nudge they need to actually go.

Want to take them a step further? You can give a Byway trip, which means an entire flight-free, multi-country European vacation, with hotels and trains booked, and a concierge to take care of any trouble along the way.

[Related: I just did a Byway trip from London to Prague with a Rail Pass and loved it! I’ll be writing up the story soon, so keep in touch by getting on my email list if you want to hear about it! In the meantime, here are my guides to buying train tickets in Europe, and to traveling Italy by train.]

Stay Tuned!

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4. Gift a Membership for Cheap Flights

Of course, as a sustainable travel blogger, I do wish you could give someone the rail pass above, and have that cover all their travel. But if they live on a different continent, that’s not likely to happen.

An annual membership to Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) will let someone you love unwrap alerts for deeply discounted flights.

There’s a well-known free version of these email alerts, but the Premium and Elite memberships are where the real savings happen. They let you customize the origin and destination airports you want to get deals from, and even the class of trip.

Black Friday Deal: Going’s Elite memberships – which are currently $25 off for Black Friday – are the most customizable and send the deepest discounts, including “mistake fares” from the airports of their choice.

5. Merino Travel Clothing

Since I travel at least 50% of the time, most of the clothing I buy has to be travel-friendly – multi-purpose, wrinkle resistant, compact, and layerable. Unbound Merino has become a staple of my travel wardrobe because it checks all of those boxes and then some.

Black Friday Deal: While you can always save 10% with the discount code TILTEDMAP, Unbound Merino’s only sale of the year will be November 19-26, with discounts up to 40% off.

These clothes are one of my favorite eco-friendly gifts for men or women.

They look great anywhere (in the city or on the trail), stay smelling fresh for a ridiculous number of wears (meaning less water used for washing), and are really hard to wrinkle.

[Details: See my review of Unbound Merino for more. It includes sizing information, my favorite styles for men and women, and what I’ve learned wearing their clothes for years.]

You can always save 10% on your first order from Unbound Merino with the discount code TILTEDMAP .

The review author wearing a navy blue Unbound Merino wool t-shirt while traveling in Italy, standing next to a medieval knight cutout in Fabriano, Italy. ©KettiWilhelm2023
The merino t-shirt I wore for 5 days biking across Italy before it started to stink.

6. Language Lessons They’ll Actually Use

Lingopie is a fun way to learn a bit (or a lot) of the local language before your next trip abroad!

The program turns TV shows and movies into engaging language lessons! And it’s perfectly set up for gifting, too.

You can sign up for any of 9 different languages – including Italian, Japanese and Spanish. I’m currently testing it out to improve my (barely there) Portuguese skills in preparation for my trip to Brazil in 2024. So stay tuned to hear how it goes! 

Black Friday Deal: Save 58% off Lingopie’s yearly plans this Black Friday weekend! (Friday – Sunday, with a lower discount available on Monday.)

Sustainable Tech Gifts

These are the best sustainable gift ideas for anyone appreciates both high tech gadgets and environmental responsibility.

(For another green tech gadget, don’t forget #1 on this list – the LARQ bottle.)

7. High-tech Indoor Composter

For a friend who’s more into techy gadgets than getting their hands dirty in the garden, the Lomi countertop composter is a great sustainable gift idea.

Eco Tip: While it does use electricity, the emissions saving of preventing food from decomposing in the landfill (which emits huge amounts of methane) are what make the Lomi a net benefit for the climate in almost every situation.

[Details: I’ve used my Lomi for almost a year. In my Lomi review, you’ll find a section on who it’s best for, and who it’s not for.]

Black Friday Deal: Right now is Lomi’s biggest discount of the year. They have a Black Friday sale for 50% off!

Pouring an ounce of two of water into the bucket of the Lomi, over a LomiPod and food scraps, including a banana peel. ©KettiWilhelm2023
My Lomi in action – making composting feel modern and techy.

8. A Portable Solar Panel or Zero-Emission Home Power Backup

My husband and I have been using our 100-watt Jackery solar panel in our van for three years now. We use it to charge our battery, which means we can recharge our computers, too. (This is a big deal when you travel in a van for more than a day!)

But you don’t need a van to make good use of a solar panel.

These are great as home back-ups in case of power outages, or on camping trips. You can even use them at home, as a source of zero-emission electricity, instead of plugging into the grid.

You can also use the solar panel without the battery, and charge your devices directly from the sun, by plugging them straight into one of the USB ports on the back of the panel.

Black Friday Deals: Jackery has a lot of HUGE discounts for holiday shopping. Like $1,600 off their Solar Generator Pro, for example. All their seasonal deals are listed here.

(A note about that solar generator: When I was a kid in rural Montana, we had a diesel generator as a backup, so I think it’s really cool that now you can use a battery pack charged with solar power for the same thing!)

The author sitting on a fold chair in the sun, next to her Jackery solar panel, and converted van. ©KettiWilhelm2021
Me and my solar panel – if they could put a picture on my tombstone…

9. Phone Cases Made from Plants

Pela cases come in tons of fun, beautiful designs, and are made of a bio-plastic, which makes them compostable when it comes time for a change.

They’re made of flax seed instead of petroleum – and you can even compost them at home in the Lomi composter, which is #7 on this list.

[Related: Check out my full review of my Lomi here.]

These cases fit perfectly, never slip off, and the buttons are easy to push. Plus the lovely, soft texture offers good grip without feeling sticky.

I’m still loving my luxurious-looking purple case after two years of use.

A new, purple, plastic-free Pela iPhone case. ©KettiWilhelm

Pela also makes smart watch bands, iPad cases, and Airpod cases from the same plant-based material, and lots of styles of sunglasses. (My husband wears their sunglasses and we both also use the Airpod cases. All have been going strong for at least two years now.)

And Pela has a nice collection of sustainability certifications – B Corp, carbon-neutral, and 1% For The Planet.

You can order Pela from EarthHero to save 10% with the code TILTEDMAP10 . Or, for more selection, order directly from Pela.

Sustainable Gifts for Him

I don’t love breaking gifts down by gender, but it is a useful shorthand – especially since I usually find the guys on my list to be the hardest to shop for.

10. Scotch Scented Shampoo Bars

Viori – one of my favorite shampoo bar brands of the many I’ve tested – makes new scents that are infused with Scottish whisky. They’re a great way to get the men in your life who can’t be bothered with personal care decisions to cut the plastic (while still using great products).

[Details: Viori’s many eco-friendly gift sets – great for breaking up into multiple presents – are below at #28 on this gift guide. All the details about the bars and the small company behind them are in my Viori review.]

Black Friday Deal: 50% off at Viori with THIS LINK and the code FLASHFRIDAY, November 24-25. The rest of the time: save 10% on your Viori order using the code TILTEDMAP .

Sustainable gifts for him are sprinkled throughout this eco-friendly gift idea list – including this plastic-free shampoo bar for men.
Scotch-infused for a masculine scene that’s good for his hair, and the planet.

+ The Index of Eco-Friendly Gifts for Men

There are lots of great sustainable gifts for men throughout this guide, including:

  • all of the items above, #1 – 10, and
  • #11 ’cause everyone appreciates a good night’s sleep,
  • #13 because cashmere,
  • #19 – unique athletic wear,
  • definitely #22, the razor he’ll never need to replace,
  • #24 – 27, because everyone loves good eats,
  • #30 for a practical gift that’s also a practical joke,
  • #31 if he’s a dog-lover,
  • #33 if he’s a reader,
  • and #34 if you still need to browse some more.

If you’re looking for the “sustainable gifts for women” section, I have it to say it’s pretty much anything on this list. (You can blame my bias as the Tilted Map gift curator. 🙋🏼‍♀️)

Luxury Eco-Friendly Gifts

11. Organic, Super-High-Quality Bedding

Avocado Green Mattress makes sustainable, vegan latex mattresses and super soft organic sheets – the kind of present that will be used every single day for years, if not decades. How many gifts can you say that about?

We’ve had their 600-thread-count organic cotton sheets on our bed for two years now, and they’re fantastic.

They continue to get softer with use. (We noticed some pilling after a few months, but it’s gone away with additional washes, which, as I learned from Unbound Merino, is a normal process for natural fibers.)

This is a great item to splurge on for luxury and quality, because I’ve looked for companies that match Avocado’s sustainability certifications for good sheets, but haven’t found any that measure up. They’re a B Corp, carbon negative, a member of 1% For The Planet, and use GOTS certified organic cotton, linen, and hemp.

Avocado has a Cyber Sale going on through the end of the year. Click here to see the list of sale items.

Two hands smoothing cream colored organic sheets from Avocado Green Mattress – a great sustainable gift idea.
(Just a stock photo – not my hand, but those are the sheets I have! 😂)
Sustainability certifications of Avocado Green Mattress, including being GOTS certified for organic cotton sheets, and others.

12. Plastic-free Shampoo & Conditioner

While I’m a die-hard shampoo bar evangelist, these are a great sustainable gift idea for people who don’t love bars.

The concentrated, waterless shampoo and conditioner from Everist are excellent, with a light citrusy scent and a luxurious rich feel.

[Details: Here’s my full review of Everist’s concentrated formulas, and who they’re best for.]

You can save 10% on any Everist order with the discount code TILTEDMAP10 . (Even if it’s not your first order with them – so save the code to reuse!)

The most luxurious-feeling plastic-free (or very nearly) shampoo options I’ve tried.

13. Cashmere Sweaters with Recycled Wool

To me, a good cashmere sweater feels like the ultimate luxury Christmas gift for anyone.

Everlane has become my go-to for high quality, sustainable clothes that last – and that I can still afford.

They have a great collection of alpaca and cashmere sweaters (men’s and women’s), made from a blend of recycled and responsibly sourced fibers.

Everlane’s Alpaca collection is a bit more affordable than the cashmere side. (And alpacas are gentler on the land than other herd animals, like sheep. They cause less erosion and soil degradation.)

Black Friday Deal: Almost everything in the Everlane shop is currently up to 50% off.

I have their Alpaca Crew Sweater from two years ago and love it – luckily it’s a style they keep making. It’s very soft and extremely warm. (Warmer than it seems like it would be for how light-weight it is).

Everlane alpaca crew sweater on a model – a top sustainable gift idea.
Everlane’s Alpaca crew sweater and…
A luxury eco-friendly gift for women and men – recycled and responsibly sourced cashmere sweaters from Everlane.
one of Everlane’s many recycled cashmere sweaters. (Lots of colors available for both!)

The brand doesn’t use any virgin plastic. They use mostly certified organic cotton (and are working toward 100%). And they have science-based climate targets.

[Related: Everlane is on my sustainable clothing brand guide, too, because they have some of the best sustainability practices in the industry, and lots of other high quality styles in their line-up. A few examples: sneakers with recycled leather (in women’s and men’s sizes), lots of recycled outerwear for men and women, and their men’s and women’s jeans are a steal for organic cotton denim!]

14. Sustainable, Luxurious (and Practical) Bags & Boots built for Winter

Poppy Barley is a certified B Corp whose slogan is “luxury for the people.” While I haven’t gotten my hands on any of their products yet, this small Canadian brand has been recommended to me by so many real-life friends that I’m confident in passing on the tip anyway.

Their shop is full of lifetime-quality belts, boots, shoes, and sweaters that are designed to weather a cold Canadian winter with an unusual amount of style.

The items that have caught my eye the most are this small purse (also available in a vegan version, made of cactus leather), these beautiful walking boots, and this stylish accent belt.

While leather is their main material, Poppy Barley does make a range of vegan products, and are very transparent about the factories that make every item. (That may sound like a small thing, but it’s actually a huge factor I look for in sustainable and ethical clothing brands.)

A few ideas for ethical luxury eco-friendly gifts from Poppy Barley.
A few more sustainable gift ideas from Poppy Barley. (Not the items I mentioned above!)

Gift Ideas for Vegans

Keep in mind here that “gifts for vegans” and “sustainable gifts for vegans” are not necessarily the same thing. (Plenty of vegan products are still packaged in plastic, for example.)

To be clear, almost everything on this gift list is vegan-friendly! (Unbound Merino and the cashmere and alpaca sweaters from Everlane are the main exceptions.)

But the products in this section are categories that are most often not vegan, so these gifts might win you a bit of a surprise factor.

15. Vegan, Refillable Candles

Many candles aren’t vegan (if they’re made with beeswax or stearic acid, which can be derived from animal fat).

And most candles are unfortunately wasteful. (They come in those theoretically “reusable” jars, but how many of those do we actually reuse?)

That’s why Everly has invented brilliantly refillable candles that are non-toxic, low-waste, and vegan!

This Canadian mother-daughter company’s innovation lets you turn an empty candle jar, or nearly any other vessel, into your own new candle. I haven’t seen anything like this before, and I think it’s a fantastic sustainable gift idea!

I haven’t tried them yet, but it looks like you don’t need to feel very crafty to pull it off. Just microwave the compostable bag, and pour the mixture into your jar of choice.

Sustainability Points: Your new candle will be free of toxic phthalates, parabens, and paraffins (a petroleum by-product). The bags that the coconut-based wax mix comes in are 60% compostable. (The other 40% breaks down too slowly to compost, but it’s made of sugarcane – much better than petroleum.)

Black Friday Deal: Get 30% off with the code KETTI30 . (Until November 30th). After that, use KETTI15 for 15% off everything sitewide.

Refillable a candle with Every's eco-friendly candle kit, with refills in compostable packaging.
(Image from Everly, but it shows the idea!)

16. Beautiful Bags Made from Recycled Bottles

All Rothy’s shoes and bags are made from recycled plastic bottles, which they spin into a durable, comfortable thread that’s machine washable.

(And they make men’s shoes, too!)

Their bags are extremely low-maintenance and well-made, and have a unique look if you want a vegan bag without the “vegan leather” look.

Rothy's Wallet Wristlet – one of the luxury eco-friendly gifts for women on this list of sustainable gift ideas.
Rothy’s Wallet Wristlet comes in lots of pretty patterns, just like their larger totes and purses.

PS: Know the shoe size you’re shopping for? These Rothy’s sneakers are my go-to travel shoes. They’re comfortable, extremely walkable, machine-washable, and in the leopard print, they add a little flavor to my mix-and-match travel wardrobe!

17. Luxurious Vegan Leather Bags

These affordable vegan bags – everything from small clutches to full-sized backpacks and totes / diaper bags – are made from sustainable plant-based leather.

Pixie Mood has been an entirely vegan brand since its conception (which is often important to people who follow vegan ethics strictly. The company isn’t just switching from making leather bags to hop on a trend.)

Discount: You can save 15% off any Pixie Mood order with the code TILTEDMAP .

Vegan leather bags from Pixie Mood make great sustainable gifts for vegans. ©KettiWilhelm2023
Three Pixie Mood clutches I ordered for an upcoming sustainable product review. (The blue bag was my favorite, with a simple but elegant design and lots of pockets!)

Sustainable Gifts for Teens

18. Creative & Plastic-free Makeup Kits

Another vegan brand, Axiology is one of the best plastic-free makeup brands I’ve found. I’ve been using their Tinted Dew and their famous Balmies for years, and this year they make several kits for easy gifting and color experimentation!

What makes some of these so perfect for gifting is the colors are designed by skin tone – so you can easily choose a set without having to guess what colors will be right.

Deal: Use the code TILTEDMAP to save 20% on everything you order from Axiology.

These are the eco-friendly gift sets I’d start with:

  • The Full Face Set – everything all in one gift set – contour/ bronzer, blush/ lipstick, eyeshadow/ highlight. (Sets come in 4 skin tone options.)
  • Balmie Super Fan Pack – fun for creatives and artists who love makeup (it reminds them of crayons or oil pastels) or as a sustainable gift for teenagers. This set encourages them to play!
  • Tinted Dew that flatters every skin tone – this is the multipurpose color that Axiology designed to look good on everyone. Perfect as an eco-friendly stocking stuffer.
Ericka, founder of the sustainable small beauty company Axiology, holds her product in front of her while smiling for a selfie on the street.
Axiology’s founder Ericka with a small pack of her Balmies – she’s also on my eco-friendly small businesses list!

19. Athletic Wear with Unique Patterns

Wolven makes both men’s and women’s yoga, athletic wear and swim swear in lots of bright, bold patterns and Gen-Z approved styles.

Most Wolven designs come in trendy matching sets, with tops that are reversible for multiple styles in one.

While all synthetic fabrics (meaning all athletic wear, except #5 on this list) are essentially plastic, Wolven uses fabric made from recycled bottles.

Wolven is also a small business founded by a woman of color, and is third-party certified carbon-neutral and a member of 1% For The Planet, among many other sustainability certifications they’ve earned!

Sustainable Self Care Gifts

20. Solid Skincare in Beautiful Bamboo Boxes (a UK brand!)

This very small, very creative skincare company from England is my favorite new brand I’ve reviewed all year – and they make some of my favorite zero-waste gifts.

SBTRCT makes solid skincare products that have improved my skin noticeably. They’re entirely plastic-free, and don’t use any palm oil, or waste space in the formulas with water.

The best products I’d recommend for gifting: Their cleanser + moisturizer gift set, or the excellent solid Vitamin C serum.

If you’re looking for a luxury, eco-friendly gift that ships to the UK or Europe, I can’t recommend these highly enough.

Deal: You can save 20% anytime when ordering directly from SBTRCT with the code TILTEDMAP 

[For Details and/ or if you’re elsewhere in the world, check out my full review of SBTRCT for international shipping options.]

All three of my bamboo travel containers for SBTRCT's plastic-free skincare line, sitting open, showing the solid skincare products inside, on a black marble bathroom counter. ©KettiWilhelm2023
Clockwise from top: Vitamin C serum bar, cleanser + moisturizer set, and the very unique solid retinol Night Balm.

21. A Customizable, Refillable Skincare Routine

Activist Skincare has become one of my favorite sustainable brands and a staple of my low-waste toiletry routine.

Their formulas are effective and well-rounded, but what’s really special is that all of their products come in glass packaging that’s designed to be REFILLED! (And their lightweight refill packets have 99% less carbon emissions than recycled glass packaging.)

You can let a loved one test the entire line with a two-week trial kit, which makes a great sustainable gift idea.

The kit, which is also refillable for travel, is an affordable way to find what works without committing to full-size products. (Especially when you want to give a thoughtful gift, but don’t know what skin type, sensitivities, or skin concerns your giftee has.)

You can save 50% on the Activist Skincare trial kit with the code TILTEDMAP50 .

[Details: Check out my full review of Activist Skincare, and my full plastic-free travel toiletry routine.]

The entire line of Activist sustainable, refillable skincare.
The fully refillable Activist line-up.

22. Quality Shaving & Dermaplaning Tools

This is one of my favorite sustainable gift ideas. Leaf Shave Co. makes luxurious-feeling personal care tools that will last years. (Mine already have!)

Their products and packaging are 100% plastic-free, and the blades are 100% recyclable – and much less expensive than normal cartridge blades.

Leaf makes something for everyone: The original Leaf razor is for shaving large areas, like legs. For faces, the Twig is the way to go. And for anyone interested in plastic-free dermaplaning, Leaf now makes the only one on the market.

[Details: If you’re wondering about dermaplaning, I answered lots of questions in my review. I also compared their razors with several other brands in my Leaf razor comparison.]

Black Friday Deals: Click through closer to actual Black Friday for Leaf’s holiday discounts. (And you can always save 10% on any Leaf Shave products with the code KETTI10 .)

Close-up of the Leaf Shave pivoting-head safety razor, with the head open to show the words "I am not plastic" written on the blade. ©KettiWilhelm2021
My Leaf razor has been going strong for almost three years with no signs of wear.

23. Luxurious, Low-waste Face Masks

If you want to give a pampering skincare gift that’s also travel-friendly and plastic-free, powdered face masks are a great option. (Just mix them with a little water to activate.)

Here are two great options I’ve tried, both from very small, vegan beauty skincare companies:

The best part? The metal tube is refillable, and refills come in easily recyclable cardboard. It’s one of my favorite zero-waste cleansers.

Save 10% on any of Dew Mighty’s starter kits (for the cleanser, serum, or both) with the code TILTEDMAP.

Plastic-free face wash powder and solid serum from Dew Mighty sitting on a wooden table. ©KettiWilhelm2022
Dew Mighty’s cleanser (in the tube) with a refill (and their excellent, solid Vitamin C serum on the right).
  • A stocking-stuffer sized option: These super low-waste green and pink clay masks from Bell Mountain Naturals are great if you’re not sure what someone wants. (I got about 2 ½ uses out of each packet.)

These are available from EarthHero, where you can save 10% with the code TILTEDMAP10.

Face masks in two brown paper packets – an easy, low-waste gift! ©KettiWilhelm2021

Sustainable Food Gifts

24. Sustainable Grocery Delivery

Instead of giving a typical food gift (like a gift basket of items that might not actually be wanted) you could do someone’s grocery shopping for them and have it delivered by a sustainable online grocery store. 

Misfits Market lets you order high-quality (and mostly organic) groceries – that would otherwise go to waste – at a discount. 

Here’s how it works: 1.) You sign up for entirely customizable, weekly deliveries of everything you’d find in a normal grocery story. 2.) They send you funny shaped but perfectly good fruit, snacks with outdated packaging designs, and other superficial “flaws” that often lead food to be thrown away at the store instead of eaten.

This would be a great gift if you’re spending time at someone’s home – just ask them what groceries they’ll need (at least a week ahead of time), and the order will show up at their door. Easy for everyone.

You can continue shipments for as long as you want, or change the address for later orders and keep the service for yourself. 

Black Friday Deal: Save $10 off your first two orders of $35+ using code TILTED10X2 . (Valid through the end of the year!)

Sustainable food gifts from Misfits Market, an online grocery subscription service that helps reduce food waste.

25. An Organic Wine Club

In October last year, I visited a few of the most sustainable wineries in Napa Valley, and Tres Sabores was my favorite – for the wines themselves, the experience of the place, and their sustainable farming practices.

It’s a woman-owned vineyard and winery, and one of the smallest in Napa Valley. It also uses the most impressive range of sustainable farming practices, including being organic, biodynamic, and using carbon farming practices that reduce the climate footprint of their fantastic wines.

We liked it so much we signed up for a year of their Wine Club membership. We also ordered some wines to be shipped home from other sustainable wineries we’d visited – and Tres Sabores is the only one that sends their shipments in entirely plastic-free padding and packaging.

26. Local Food & Dining Experiences

Comfort food and drinks are gifts that are unlikely to go to waste, and they’re often easy gifts to source locally. (Think: jam from the farmer’s market, a bottle of something from a local distillery, a bag of locally-roasted coffee, truffles from a chocolate shop, or a gift certificate to a local restaurant.)

I also love homemade food gifts – which reminds me that I need to publish my limoncello recipe! In the meantime, you could give the gift of cooking a fantastic dish of pasta for someone, or mixing them an Italian cocktail.

A plate of easy, homemade Italian pasta with lentils, garlic and parsley. ©KettiWilhelm2020
Pasta with lentils – one of my favorite easy Italian recipes, in case you want to cook someone a meal instead of giving them a restaurant gift certificate.

27. Organic Hot Chocolate & Plastic-Free Tea 

EarthHero also carries a few good craft foodie gifts:

Sustainable hot chocolate in plastic-free packaging from Flying Bird Botanicals, a gift available from EarthHero,

“Cheap” Eco-Friendly Gifts

Okay, “cheap” is not the right word, because these are definitely still high-quality items, but they’re the most affordable sustainable gift ideas on this list!

Pixie Mood (which is #17 on this gift guide) is also the most affordable option for vegan bags and purses.

28. Beautiful Shampoo & Conditioner Bars

I’ll probably never stop talking about The Earthling Co, but in 2023, I finally found a shampoo bar brand that I like just as much – and that I think makes a better gift.

That shampoo bar brand is Viori.

These eco-friendly gift sets are perfect to break up into affordable gifts for multiple people.

[Reviews: For details, see my review of Earthling Co. shampoo bars, and of Viori shampoo bars.]

Viori is really unique. Their plastic-free packaging is the most gift-worthy design I’ve seen. And their formulas are based on rice water (sourced ethically from an indigenous tribe in Southern China), which is a traditional way to keep hair shiny, long and strong.

Viori's plastic-free shampoo bar holder, seen from the side, with their rice shampoo bar visible inside, and it's original decorative paper packaging in the background. ©KettiWilhelm2023
Viori’s unique bamboo bar holder is included in several of their gift sets (for a signficant discount).

Here are the sets I’d recommend for gifting:

I crunched some numbers to figure out which sets bring the price per bar down the most, making them perfect to break up into small gifts for multiple people.

  • The Experience Bundle = one of each of Viori’s formulas (4 shampoo + conditioner bar sets) for $115, which is 20% off. That makes 4 sustainable gifts, at $29 each, in one order! (Or if you try this link, it should offer the entire set plus one gift box for $104. It might be a glitch, but if it’s still available you’re in luck!)
  • The Tradition Bundle = all 8 bars, like the Experience Bundle, plus one of Viori’s unique bamboo bar holders. Three smaller gifts, plus one with a little something extra? (DEAL: This bundle is currently priced at $106, which might be another holiday glitch.)
  • Ritual Bundle = one single, bigger gift, priced at $69: a shampoo and conditioner set, plus a body wash bar, bamboo bar holder, bamboo comb, and dry shampoo to use between washes.
  • Pride of Islay Bundle = something a bit more masculine. Viori’s three newest scents are infused with Islay whisky, and meant to help you convince even a manly man to use better shower products. This bundle comes with a wooden bar holder, too.

Black Friday Deal: 50% off at Viori with THIS LINK and the code FLASHFRIDAY, November 24-25. The rest of the time, in addition to the gift set discounts, you can always save 10% at Viori with the code TILTEDMAP .

Set of all 8 of Viori's rice shampoo and conditioner bars, on a warm wood warm, ready to split up for gift giving. ©KettiWilhelm2023
The Experience Bundle, ready to break up for gift-giving.

29. Delicious Lip Balm (without the plastic tube)

There’s something people say in Italy when they give a small gift that I just love: “é un solo un pensiero.” It’s just a thought.

I love that. Not every gift has to be flashy and expensive, and this is a great example.

Everyone uses lip balm, so this is an affordable gift that sneakily introduces someone to the world of plastic-free toiletries. (A world I know really, really well.)

I’ve tried at least five different brands of lip balm in cardboard tubes, and these are my favorites. (I’ve been using mine for more than a year, and it’s nowhere near finished.)

They’re like a vegan, plastic-free heir to the Lip Smackers I used to love getting in my stockings as a kid. (A great sustainable gift for tweens or adults.)

I have the Orange Tangerine flavor, which is more grown-up than it sounds. The scent isn’t 100% fruity, because the formula contains a little rosemary extract. They also come in the prettiest cardboard packaging, which makes them my favorites for gifting, as well.

These are available from EarthHero. (Remember, use the code TILTEDMAP10 for 10% off anytime.)

A colorful, pink and orange tube of Meow Meow Tweet’s vegan lip balm sits on a white window sill with bright blue and sky and fall foliage behind it. ©KettiWilhelm2021
So much better than the brown cardboard a lot of these come in. (I’ve been using mine for a year and still have a lot to go.)

Sustainable Gifts for the Home (& Pets)

30. Sustainable Toilet Paper

For the home that has everything? For a sustainable gag gift? Or to apologize for overstaying your welcome at the in-laws? At least you know this eco-friendly toilet paper is a gift that will actually get used.

Reel uses bamboo (a much more sustainable alternative to cutting down trees for TP) to make the best toilet paper I’ve tried (and yes, I tested it for a review).

It’s soft and smooth, doesn’t fall apart, and uses zero dyes, perfumes or other irritants. From the first box, it’s become a staple in our house. 

Plus, it’s totally plastic-free! Not like the plastic-wrapped kind from the grocery store.

Black Friday Deal: You can save 30% on your order from Reel using THIS LINK and the code HOLIDAY from Nov 22 – 27. The rest of the year: Use discount code TILTED for 20% off at Reel.

Sustainable plastic-free bamboo toilet paper rolls in a basket from Reel
The gift that’ll never go to waste (or create plastic waste).

31. Climate-Friendly Dog Food

This is a shocking stat: If dogs and cats in the US had their own separate country, that country would be the 5th biggest meat consumer in the world.

That’s what makes Virginia-based Chippin unique. Their food and treats are made using 80% fewer resources (including land, water and carbon emissions) than normal dog food. Plus, the company is plastic-neutral and has carbon-neutral shipping through offsets.

I don’t have a dog to test Chippin on, but I think they’re a great gift idea for an eco-conscious friend with a dog!

The protein comes from crickets, spirulina and silver carp (an invasive species in North America, which they source from a fishery in Kentucky. And as the Washington Post explained, dogs don’t actually need to eat chicken and beef.)

A meme of a dog with a speech bubble saying "our forests are at stake because of our steak dinners," with a burning forest in the background.
Lots of kitschy memes about environmental problems that pet food contributes to from Chippin.

32. Household Goods Made of Chopsticks

One of the main roadblocks to better recycling is that recycled materials often don’t always have a high market value. So the more stuff we can make with recycled materials, the higher that value will be, and the greater the motivation to collect and recycle materials – all sorts of materials.

The Canadian company Chop Value recycles bamboo chop sticks to make all sorts of home good, like these unique, decorative shelves.

Chopvalue's creative shelf made from recycled bamboo chopsticks from EarthHero

I haven’t tried these, but I think the concept of recycling single-use chopsticks into something useful is unique and ingenious.

They’re available from EarthHero, where you can save 10% with the code TILTEDMAP10.

Eco-Friendly Marketplaces for More Sustainable Gift Ideas

33. Books – that aren’t from Amazon!

Bookshop is my favorite Amazon alternative for new books. They’re unique because they share a portion of sales with local independent, bookstores, and are also a certified B Corp.

You can shop my gift recommendations on Bookshop here:

The lists below contain my favorite books on everything Tilted Map is about! You’ll great travel writing, food culture, sustainability and sustainable travel books. (Or click here for all of the Tilted Map book lists.)

[Details: I reviewed most of the travel books in my post about traveling vicariously through nonfiction.]

You can also search Bookshop’s entire selection here:

Alternative Gift Idea:

For new and used books, Better World Books is my go-to.

In addition to reselling books, they donate them, recycle what can’t be used, and raise funds for libraries and literacy programs. Better World Books has warehouses in the US and UK, and free shipping everywhere. (And, like Bookshop, they’re also a certified B Corp.)

34. Sustainable gift shopping, for when you just want to browse.

These are two different marketplaces, that both have high sustainability standards, and two very different vibes: Uncommon Goods and Novica.

35. Don’t Forget: Green Gift Wrapping Paper & Alternatives

Most wrapping paper is frustratingly not recyclable if it has any hint of plastic or metal. (Sparkles, glitter, sequins, foil, gloss, laminate, velvet, stick-on plastic tags, lots of plastic tape still attached, etc.)

I’ve read that wrapping paper has to pass the “crumple test” to be recyclable – if you crumple it up and it stays in a ball, it’s recyclable (as long as it doesn’t have any of those fancy decos). If it doesn’t hold the shape, it’s not.

Ribbons and bows also generally can’t be recycled. (Same goes for twine, string, and anything else long and stringy that will get caught in recycling machines.)

(All those criteria are probably why the city of Boston, where I live, says to put all gift wrap in the trash. Boston has a search tool to check what we can recycle in the city. If you live in a large-ish city, you probably have a similar website.)

That’s why I look for recycled and recyclable gift wrap.

This brand is made from recycled newsprint, and can be recycled again. Seal it with paper tape, otherwise plastic tape has to be removed before recycling.

They also make paper ribbon that’s recycled and should be also recyclable.

Furoshiki – traditional, reusable Japanese gift wrapping clothes – are another great option.

You can find lots of handmade furoshiki here.

I hope this gave you some helpful sustainable gift ideas! If you have any questions, drop them below in the comments. Happy holidays and happy new year! 🙂

For more inspiration, check out my other sustainable product reviews!

Save these sustainable gift ideas for later on Pinterest!
"20 Sustainable Gift Ideas for the Reluctant Gifter," from the blog TiltedMap.com, written over a photo of a brightly lit Christmas tree in a piazza in Italy.

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    1. Thanks, I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Samantha! Let me know if you have any questions, of course. I own almost everything on this list, so I’m happy to talk specifics if you’re wondering about anything. 🙂

      Cheers and keep in touch!